Quite commonly, people don’t know what items need to be removed or taken out of their bags during the airport security screenings. Instead, they just go with the flow, and if anything goes wrong, just do what the TSA security agent says.
Sure, you could do that, and you’ll manage just fine. However, if you want to go through the airport security faster, you should learn the basics. By doing that, you’ll also speed up the security checks for everyone else.
Also, some people don’t know that some items, like jewelry, don’t need to be taken off during the security but they do it anyway. Anyway, here are all the basics you need to know about going through the airport security.
What Items You Have to Take off at Airport Security
If you forget to remove some items before going through the screening machine, the TSA agents will probably pat you down. To avoid this, first, learn which items you need to remove during the airport security. Here, we’ll cover the ones we get the most questions about.
Do You Have to Take off Jewelry at Airport Security?
When going through the screening machine, you do not need to remove jewelry. Rings, necklaces, earrings, and other types of jewelry are perfectly fine to keep on unless they contain too much metal. Most jewelry barely contains any metal, so you don’t have to remove it. It’s a common misconception, so TSA constantly reminds the passengers that there’s no need for that. In fact, they encourage people to leave jewelry on, because it could get lost or forgotten in the bins, and that just makes the lines at the security longer.
Do You Have to Remove Piercings at Airport Security?
In general, body piercings should not be removed when going through airport security. However, larger body piercings may cause the alarm to set off, so you might be asked for an additional pat-down. If you’d rather avoid the pat-down, you can take out the piercing in private and go through the screening machine again.
Do You Have to Remove Watches at Airport Security?
Hand watches that contain a lot of metal should be removed and placed in the screening bins before going through the screening machine. Plastic or wooden watches, of ones that contain only a little bit of metal, can be left on, but if you’re wearing a full-metal watch, you should remove it, otherwise, it will cause the alarm on the screening machine to set off.
Do You Have to Take off Your Shoes at Airport Security?
Unfortunately, TSA still asks their passengers to remove their shoes when going through the screening machine. In other parts of the world, this practice was common a decade ago. But nowadays, airport security in other countries will let you keep your shoes on. So if you’re flying through the U.S. or with a U.S. airline, remember to wear socks to avoid getting a fungus infection.
Do You Have to Take off Coats and Jackets at Airport Security?
Before going through the screening machine, you should take off any bulky coats or jackets and put them in a separate bin. That’s because some jackets may contain metal that sets the alarm off. Also, the TSA agents need to make sure that you aren’t concealing any prohibited items under the jacket. So to avoid a pat-down, always take your jacket off before.
Do You Have to Remove Belts at Airport Security?
Most belts will have to be removed and placed in the x-ray bins before going through the screening machine. That’s because most belts have a belt buckle made out of metal, which sets the alarms off. The only types of belts that can be left on are ones, which have a belt buckle made out of carbon fiber or plastics.
Can You Carry Your Wallet Through Airport Security?
If your wallet doesn’t contain coins or anything metallic, you’re fine to leave it in your pocket, because it won’t set off the alarms on the screening machine. In fact, we encourage people to leave wallets in their pockets to avoid something accidentally falling out and getting lost. That said, a lot of the times, TSA agents will ask you to remove your wallet and place it in a separate bin even though it doesn’t contain any metal, especially, if you have a really thick wallet which is hard to screen. If you don’t want your wallet to be screened, you can also ask for manual inspection. People aren’t too happy about TSA asking to remove their wallets, but if you’re flying in the U.S., you really don’t have a choice.
Can You Wear a Hat Through Airport Security?
Hats, even bulky headpieces such as turbans, can be worn when going through the airport security. A few years back, TSA required all passengers to remove hats, which caused some issues with some Muslims. You see, in their culture, turbans are considered private pieces of clothing, which shouldn’t be removed in public. So TSA changed their rules, and now allow the passengers to leave hats and other headpieces on. That said, they still may ask for an additional pat-down or to remove your headpiece in private if they think it’s necessary.
Do You Have to Take out Keys and Spare Change out of Your Pockets at Airport Security?
Obviously, keys, spare change, and other small metal objects are the first things that you should remove before going through airport security. They contain enough metal to set the alarms off, so you should always place them inside an x-ray bin together with your other items. Just remember to keep an eye on them to avoid anything getting lost or stolen.
Read Next: 80 Packing Tips for International Travel
What Items You Have to Take out of Your Bag at Airport Security
Do You Have to Take out Laptops at Airport Security?
As of right now, you have to remove laptops from your carry-on bag and place them in a separate bin before going through the security. The only instance where you can leave your laptop inside the carry-on is if it’s placed inside a dedicated laptop pocket. Some carry-on bags now come with built-in padded pockets for laptops which don’t have any pockets around them that disrupt the X-ray image. If the image still is cluttered even though it’s packed inside the dedicated pocket, the TSA might still ask you to place it inside a separate bin. That said, things will change soon because the TSA is installing new x-ray scanners (said to be rolled out nationwide 2019/2020) which won’t require laptops to be taken out of the bag.
Read Next: Top 12 Best 17-Inch Laptop Backpacks in 2020
Do You Have to Take out Cell Phones, Tablets, Cameras, and Other Electronics at Airport Security?
Prior to 2017, TSA didn’t ask passengers to remove tablets, e-readers, and cameras from their carry-on bags. But in 2017, they increased security. Since then, you now have to take out any electronics larger than a mobile cell phone out of your bag and place them in a separate bin, so they can be screened without any other items interfering the image. That said, you can still leave your cell-phone in the bag.
An important note about bringing electronics: When bringing any electronics in your hand luggage, always make sure that they’re fully charged. The TSA agents might ask you to turn your electronics on during the security, and if the battery is dead or the device doesn’t turn on, they’re allowed to confiscate the item.
Do You Have to Take out Chargers at Airport Security?
Chargers and cables for electronic devices don’t need to be removed from your carry-on when going through the airport security. That said, they do clutter the x-ray images a lot, so unless you’ve packed just a few chargers in there, the TSA agents might ask you to remove them from the bag and place them in a separate bin. But personally, I always do that anyway. I have a zippered mesh bag full of chargers, and I proactively remove it and place inside a separate bin to avoid any additional inspections.
Do You Have to Take out Toiletries and Liquids at Airport Security?
During the airport security screening, you have to remove your quart-sized bag of toiletries from your carry-on and place it in a separate bin. Quite often, liquids obstruct the images of the x-ray screening machine, so they have to be placed inside a separate bin.
Do You Have to Take out Medication at Airport Security?
Unless the medicine is in a liquid or powder form, it can stay inside your carry-on. Powdered and liquid medicine will have to be removed and placed inside a separate bin because they obstruct the x-ray screening images. If you don’t want your medicine to be screened, you can ask the TSA officers to inspect them manually.
Do You Have to Take out Food at Airport Security?
Although you aren’t obliged to remove food items from your bag, it’s a good idea to do that nevertheless. TSA has stated many times that quite often, specific foods will obstruct the x-ray screening images. So to get a clear image, they’ll ask you to remove any food items from your bag and place them in a separate bin.
TSA officers may instruct travelers to separate items from carry-on bags such as foods, powders, and any materials that can clutter bags and obstruct clear images on the X-ray machine. Travelers are encouraged to organize their carry-on bags and keep them uncluttered to ease the screening process and keep the lines moving.
What’s TSA Security Precheck and Is It Worth It
If you’re a U.S. citizen and you don’t have any criminal offenses, you should apply to the TSA Precheck program.
Essentially, the Precheck program is there to make airport security checks easier and faster. If you apply to the program, you won’t have to stand in the regular line, but instead, you’ll be allowed to go through a quicker security check. Precheck passengers don’t have to remove laptops and toiletries from their bags, and they don’t have to remove jackets, shoes, and belts when going through the security screener. They’re also screened more loosely, which makes the lines go much faster.
Right now, over 200 airports and 73 airlines have TSA Precheck lines right next to regular security lines. If you’re flying domestically, most likely you’ll be able to use the Precheck security instead of the regular one.
You can apply to this program if you’re a U.S. citizen, don’t have any criminal records, and are willing to let the TSA store your fingerprints. That said, it’s not for free – it’s 85$ for five years of enrollment. When you sign up, you’ll have to schedule a 10-minute meeting in one of their enrollment centers, which includes a background check and fingerprinting. If you’re accepted, you’ll be enrolled in the program, and you’ll be able to use their precheck security lines for the next five years.
The TSA says that although the customers are screened less, the Precheck program only results in safer flights. They now get background information about the ‘safer’ passengers, which means that they now trust them more and do fewer inspections. Also, they now can separate safe passengers from potentially unsafe, and spend more of their efforts on screening all the unsafe passengers.
Most regulars only say positive things about the program, and it really doesn’t cost much to apply. So if you’re flying frequently, we’d definitely recommend applying to the TSA Precheck program. (P.S. We aren’t affiliated with them in any way and don’t actually care if you enroll or not.)